Although Puerto Ricans traditionally vote Democratic, some like Caballero are so unfamiliar with party politics that they are approaching the race with an open mind.
In 2004, George Bush won Puerto Rican vote in Florida. But in 08, it went to Obama.
The Puerto Rican vote in Florida is up for grabs, of course, said Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, a Republican who dismisses the notion that Puerto Ricans are a shoo-in for Democrats. Puerto Ricans in Florida tend to be very conservative socially. If they are second or third generation moving south from New York, thats different. Those coming straight from Puerto Rico are social conservatives, for whom issues such as high taxes are very important.
At 52, Fortuño himself has never voted in a presidential election.
The I-4 corridor, as I see it, is going to decide how Florida goes, he said. Its mostly Puerto Ricans. There are a lot of other Hispanics in that area, but they are not necessarily American citizens.
There were 2.7 million Hispanics in Florida in 2000, and 4.2 million in 2010.
Thats a 57 percent gain in population, said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center. A good part of that growth is the Puerto Rican population growth in Central Florida.
Overall, a growing number of Latinos are registering Democratic or citing no party affiliation, Lopez said.
Felix Castro, 35, moved to Miramar in 2008 from Puerto Rico and will also be voting for the first time in a presidential race. He said most Puerto Ricans will wind up casting ballots in favor of a candidate not a party.
Puerto Rico is a totally different political culture, Castro said. For us, when we speak of parties, the definition is clear: We are talking about independence for Puerto Rico, statehood for Puerto Rico or commonwealth for Puerto Rico. With Republicans and Democrats, you have a lot of people saying, wait, wait, wait. I dont understand.
I still have my doubts about the difference between the two.